Accused in Lunney case visited Store Street Garda station day before abduction

ireland
Accused In Lunney Case Visited Store Street Garda Station Day Before Abduction
One of the men accused of assaulting Quinn Industrial Holdings director Kevin Lunney allegedly visited a garda station before making what the State argues was a "preparatory" journey to Cavan one day before Mr Lunney was abducted, the Special Criminal Court has heard.
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Eoin Reynolds

One of the men accused of assaulting Quinn Industrial Holdings director Kevin Lunney allegedly visited a garda station before making what the State argues was a "preparatory" journey to Cavan one day before Mr Lunney was abducted, the Special Criminal Court has heard.

The court heard evidence that gardai tracked the man from Store Street Garda station, which led them to a Renault Kangoo van that the prosecution alleges was used to bring some of the accused men from Dublin to Cavan and back to Dublin on the day Mr Lunney was abducted and the previous day. Sean Guerin SC for the prosecution has said it is the State's case that the previous day's journey was for "preparatory purposes".

Lawyers for the accused are challenging the admissibility of CCTV evidence.

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A 40-year-old man known as YZ, Alan O’Brien (40), of Shelmalier Road, East Wall, Dublin 3, Darren Redmond (27), from Caledon Road, East Wall, Dublin 3 and Luke O’Reilly (67), with an address at Mullahoran Lower, Kilcogy, Co Cavan have all pleaded not guilty to false imprisonment and intentionally causing serious harm to Mr Lunney at Drumbrade, Ballinagh, Co Cavan on September 17th, 2019.

Detective Garda Alan Jones told Mr Guerin that he became aware that the accused man known as YZ had visited Store Street Garda Station in the early afternoon of September 16th, 2019.

CCTV footage

Det Gda Jones said he found CCTV footage of YZ at the Garda station and "tracked him from there". He said footage from various locations led him to a red Volkswagen with a registration ending in 782 that went to the Island Quay apartments in Dublin 3. A male got out, he said, and walked in the direction of the car park to the apartment complex before a Renault Kangoo van passed and flashed its lights.

"Then it was a question of tracking the Kangoo van," the garda said.

Det Gda Jones also tracked the movements of the van the following day, September 17th, when Mr Lunney was abducted and assaulted. The garda also discovered footage of an Audi and two short clips of a Transit van after hearing that Mr Lunney had described being put into the boot of an Audi and later being put in the back of a Transit van. He sought footage from camera systems at motorway toll booths, garages and business and residential premises in various locations.

Mobile phone top-ups

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Following requests from the garda investigation team, Det Gda Jones also tracked the movements of the Kangoo on October 23rd and downloaded footage of people buying mobile phone top-ups at various times for phones allegedly linked to the offences.

The detective said that when canvassing for CCTV footage he told homeowners and business owners that gardai required the footage for a criminal investigation. In some cases he referred the CCTV operators to section 41.b of the Data Protection Act which allows gardai investigating criminal offences to access CCTV footage.

Under cross-examination Det Gda Jones told Michael O'Higgins SC, defending YZ, that he has been involved in gathering CCTV for about six years. He said he is aware "in broad terms" of the provisions under the Garda Siochana Act 2005, which restrict where and in what circumstances gardaí can place their own CCTV cameras.

The witness agreed that gardaí are not allowed to "put cameras on every street corner, but are reliant on members of the public" who make their footage available to gardaí. CCTV footage, the garda agreed, has "revolutionised how cases are prosecuted."

GDPR

The garda also said he was aware that prior to the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) in 2018, anyone operating a CCTV system was required to register. Det Gda Jones said he was not aware of any discussion in An Garda Siochana about the possibility that gardaí were using material that might have been unlawfully generated.

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The witness agreed with Giollaiosa O'Lideadha SC, for Alan O'Brien, that in every case the CCTV operators allowed him to access the system and "take what you want". He agreed that the conditions under which private operators use CCTV had not been addressed in garda training and he was not in a position to ask operators whether they were complying with the law.

The garda also agreed that the "origin of the trail" that led to specific CCTV footage being sought was mobile phone data which gardaí had seized early on in the investigation. The defence has previously challenged the admissibility of the mobile phone data and the three judges of the non-jury court are expected to rule on that in the coming days.

Mr Lunney has told the court that he was bundled into the boot of a car near his home and driven to a container where he was threatened and told to resign as a director of Quinn Industrial Holdings. His abductors cut him with a Stanley knife, stripped him to his boxer shorts, doused him in bleach, broke his leg with two blows of a wooden bat, beat him on the ground, cut his face and scored the letters QIH into his chest. They left him bloodied, beaten and shivering on a country road at Drumcoghill in Co Cavan where he was discovered by a man driving a tractor.

The trial continues in front of Mr Justice Tony Hunt, presiding, and Judge Gerard Griffin and Judge David McHugh.

 

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